What is WPHD?
It goes back a long, long way.... traditionally, it's how the vaqueros developed a bridle horse.
It's progressive foundation training (ie. a training scale) for the horse with an emphasis on the skills developed and needed and desired of a traditional western horse.
Non-competitive western riders would enjoy the skills and art of riding the western developed horse with such things as riding one-handed, neck reining with a draped rein (ie. no contact) with grace and style. As seen with masterful vaqueros of the old west.
It's also the athletic development of the western horse and the western performance horse to perform very successfully both physically and mentally for traditional competitive western events. On my website here, I also use the term body control foundation as I was taught by Bob Avila, who refers to it as body control. Western trainers like Clinton Anderson, Stacey Westfall and Bob Avila call it body control.
It is a series of progressively more difficult gymnastic exercises that develop a western horse's physical flexibility and strength and ability to perform with grace and style while at speed!! What a thrill it is to see that! And feel it! Competitive western horses today are flatter moving, slightly elevated shoulders (less than it is in dressage), require more bend and perform lateral movements with incredible flexibility and speed.
It sounds like Western Dressage or Dressage for the Western horse. I thought so too. I even used to call it that last year. After all, Dressage is the french word for 'training' of the horse. As in basic or foundation training. The difference is that dressage training (dressage tests, dressage maneuvers) require the development of muscles that require extreme elevation in the shoulders compared to our western horses and more extension in the front end than in western horses.
Rod Miller of IPHDA.com further explains by saying: ' that english dressage develops flexibility and strength with an emphasis on strength to do pirouettes. Western performance horses need flexibility and strength too but with an emphasis on flexibility to do the quick lateral movements like rollbacks and chasing a cow. One is not better than the other. They are just different to suit different purposes'.
When I teach students how to do western performance horse development with their horse, it teaches the student how to understand balance, where the horse's feet are and how to use their own body, and how staying in the centre position stays out of the way of the horse to help them understand how the horse needs to perform all those quick lateral movements without our interference. WPHD helps you, the student attain further, more in-depth communication and a better understanding of a western horse and the requirements for our traditional events.
We all want the same result whether we compete with our western horse or not: a happy, capable, willing horse that is a pleasure to ride in our western tradition.
Wouldn't you want to use a training method that develops your western horse according to tradition and the western events of today? Rhetorical question... I think.
IPHDA - International Performance Horse Development Association
Rod Miller, NRHA judge and president has created an association that pertains to body control, or western performance horse development. Here's more details. This is currently the only competition for western performance horse development.
Putting my spin on body control, true western performance horse development and western rider development.